Electronic Medical Records in low to middle income countries: The case of Khayelitsha Hospital, South Africa

Emmanuel C. Ohuabunwa, Jared Sun, Karen Jean Jubanyik, Lee A. Wallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Introduction Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) have shown benefit for clinical, organisational, and societal outcomes. In low-to-middle-income countries, the desire for EMRs will continue to rise as increasing trauma and infectious disease rates necessitate adequate record keeping for effective follow-up. 114 nations are currently working on national EMRs, with some using both a full EMR (Clinicom) and a paper-based system scanned to an online Enterprise Content Management (ECM) database. Methods The authors sought to evaluate the ability and completeness of the EMR at Khayelitsha Hospital (KH) to capture all Emergency Centre (EC) encounters classified as trauma. Based on the high trauma rates in the Khayelitsha area and equally high referral rates from KH to higher-level trauma centres, an assumption was made that its rates would mirror nationwide estimates of 40% of EC visits. Records from July 2012 to June 2013 were examined. Results 3488 patients visited the EC in the month of July 2012. 10% were noted as trauma on Clinicom and within their records were multiple sections with missing information. The remaining months of Aug 2012-June 2013 had an average trauma load of 8%. On further investigation, stacks of un-scanned patient folders were identified in the records department, contributing to the unavailability of records from January 2013 to the time of study (June 2013) on ECM. Conclusion The results highlight difficulties with implementing a dual record system, as neither the full EMR nor ECM was able to accurately capture the estimated trauma load. Hospitals looking to employ such a system should ensure that sufficient funds are in place for adequate support, from supervision and training of staff to investment in infrastructure for efficient transfer of information. In the long run, efforts should be made to convert to a complete EMR to avoid the many pitfalls associated with handling paper records.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalAfrican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Khayelitsha District Hospital
  • South Africa
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Gerontology
  • Emergency
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Critical Care


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